It is July 1962. Edward and Florence, young innocents married that morning, arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their private fears of the wedding night to come…
This is really all that’s needed for a book description of this gem of a novella, written by one of my favourite modern writers. It is a sensitively written but devastating portrayal of sexual awkwardness between a newly married couple staying in a pokey hotel in Dorset.
“This is how the entire course of a life can be changed – by doing nothing.”
These haunting words give you an idea of how McEwan plays with your emotions. His descriptions draw you in to the minds of the characters, Florence in particular, and her silence leaves you wanting to change the course of their lives. Her paralysis is partly what makes it work. The ending left me with a deep sadness. I don’t think a book has ever worked on my emotions in quite the same way. A huge feat of narrative genius.